Max’s cooks up something special

Ali Carte Columns

September 7, 2014

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Ask any restaurant manager about the importance of serving specials on the menu, and they’ll probably tell you that those limited-time offers, weekly favorites and brand-new bites can be just as valuable as the signature dishes themselves. Not only do specials give chefs the opportunity to try out exciting new creations, each with the potential to become a house classic, but they also give loyal patrons a chance to stray from their usual order and revitalize their taste buds.

At Hawaii’s haven of authentic Filipino fare, also known as Max’s of Manila, Dillingham branch manager Elizabeth Joven is no exception. When customers ask to see their absolute faves on the menu, Joven knows that bringing items on as specials can go a long way in truly connecting patrons to the dining establishment.

“In every location, there are particular types of customers who have their preferences, so we like to cater to our customers. This is what they’re looking for, so we try to come up with a dish,” explains Joven. “They feel that their requests, cravings and opinions really matter.

“The next time (diners) come back, they say, ‘Oh, you’re really listening to us.'”

Max’s may be an internationally successful chain of eateries, but that doesn’t stop it from taking the time to show each location that it cares. At the two Hawaii branches located near Costco Iwilei and in Waipahu, calls for some good ol’ fashioned comfort food have been heard, as Max’s welcomes Tinolang Manok (Chicken Papaya Soup) as its newest special. Priced at $9.95, the home-style soup presents the mounds of flavor a whole chicken has to offer, simmering to sumptuousness with slices of green papaya, ginger and fresh chili leaves. “People have been asking for this dish for quite a while, so we decided we might as well have it,” notes Joven.

The restaurant also has revealed a couple of specials that Max’s devotees from the Islands to the West Coast will be able to enjoy. The first is Beer Braised Pata Tim ($15.95), which is traditionally served during special occasions. The family-style dish satisfies with slowly cooked pork hock that has been beer-braised and tenderized for four hours. Seasoned with banana blossoms and a soy-based sauce accented with spices, the pork takes on an irresistible, mildly sweet flavor.

Patrons also are falling for the Bulalo ($16.95) soup special, which boasts a pure, clear broth infused with richness from the beef shank, cabbage and other vegetables it’s prepared with. “On top of our line of soups, this is one of the famous soup dishes in the Philippines, so we just kind of put a little twist on it by adding corn on the cob,” explains Joven.

Of course, the true test for any special is whether or not it becomes a permanent menu item. We’ll have to see what happens with these Max’s of Manila limited-time offers, but as Joven predicts, the prospects are looking good! “Because they are really doing well, chances are they are going to be mainstays — all three of them.”

Max’s of Manila

801 Dillingham Blvd. #108, Honolulu
599-5034 (Dillingham)
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

94-300 Farrington Hwy., # F-1, Waipahu
676-1504 (Waipahu)
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sundays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Westgate Shopping Center, Waipahu, HI 96797

Honolulu, HI 96817

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